Sunday, 28th January, 2024

[Day 1413]

So today we enter our Sunday morning routines and had got ourselves all up and ready to watch the Lorna Kuenssberg program starting at 9.00am on BBC1. We were due to meet with our University of Birmingham friend later on in Waitrose but we received a call indicating that his plans had to change (as did ours yesterday) so we needed to move onto Plan B. We decided to go to the park which we have not visited for some time now so after we had picked up our copy of the ‘Sunday Times‘ from Waitrose we made for the park. Things seemed to be a little colder when we first arrived in the park which seemed to be teeming with both dogs and children on their bikes. We made for our usual bench, drank our coffee and ate our comestibles which warmed us up a little. Then we made for home, still having a bit of the morning left to us. Putting on the TV, we stumbled into the second half of a program called ‘Pilgrimage’ and we thought, at first, that this was one of the many programs illustrating a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Northern Spain. Actually, it turned out to be an Italian pilgrimage with Rome as its destination but quite interesting for all that. The pilgrims turned out to be all faiths and none and, en route, they received a blessing at the hands of a local priest which even for the non-religious the pilgrims found quite inspiring. I suppose this type of program is best broadcast on a Sunday morning when people turn to this type of uplifting TV but we left this before the end because, just after midday, BBC2 was broadcasting a 1940’s version of Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice‘ We had lunch in the middle of this transmission but it was interesting for two reasons. Firstly, the party of Mr Darcy was played by Lawrence Olivier and I must say that he made a rather dashing Darcy. But also the producers had introduced various parts of dialogue which I am sure faithfully have their origins in the original but with which I was completely unfamiliar. At the same time, various scenes with which we are familiar from more modern productions were omitted completely so it made viewing an interesting but different experience from what we might be led to expect. After we concluded the film, we decided to eschew the TV for a bit and to listen to some music so whilst Meg dozed and I started to blog, we listened to a production of J S Bach’s ‘Matthew Passion‘ playing pleasantly in the background.

The ‘Sunday Times’ today is devoting quite a lot of space to the machinations on the Tory Right wing which is comprised of a variety of groups all of whom seem to dislike each other heartily. What has prompted this soul searching is a mysterious but comprehensive poll which seems to indicate that at the general election, whenever it comes, the Tories faces annihilation. The only thing that seems to unite these warring factions is an intense dislike of the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, and there is talk of replacing him before any election. One is reminded of the expression ‘rats fighting in a sack’ when faced with all of these machinations but the truth may well lay in a focus group discussion that was featured on the Lorna Kuenssberg program this morning. This is that the Tories are becoming almost universally disliked whoever happens to be the leader (with the possible exception of Boris Johnson, for whom a minority still yearn) The constant attacks on each other and internecine warfare seem so far removed from the concerns that people have about food prices, mortgages, jobs, energy bills and the like. In other words, there is a massive disconnect between what appears to be happening at Westminster and the issues that the average voter feels are affecting people in the round. This rubs off onto the Labour Party which does not seem to be seen as a saviour of the nation – rather, the electorate seems desperate to have a change of government but with no clear consensus as to what should take its place. My very first boss in the civil service when I was aged about 17 and seemed to be completely non partisan rather observing political parties as though they were football teams. His view, expressed in the rather pithy manner, was that ‘one lot have had a go so let the other lot now have a go now’

This is the time of year when, with the days startling to lengthen somewhat, thoughts turn perhaps to the Spring. In our little walk in the park today, all the vegetation had that somewhat bleak, mid-winter feel about it because we still have the month of February to live through. But it is always encouraging to see some of the first hints of better things to come when one espies first the snow drops, then the crocuses and perhaps the first shoots of the very earliest daffodils. When Meg and I used to walk down to the park every day, which we did at the height of the pandemic, these were the little things that one noticed that used to gladden the heart a little but we tend to whizz past in the car these days as the walk all the way down the park is beyond Meg these days. But at least, we have a wheelchair which has proved to be an absolute boon to us and we use it constantly, keeping it permanently in the boot of the car. I find, though, that being the person who pushes the wheelchair, one looks at pavements in a slightly different light, always on the look out for example for a dropped kerb to cross the road, for example, and rough patches of pavement to avoid. I have been very impressed over the last few weeks when I have been helping Meg into and out of the car and into her wheelchair, how kindly members of the public have proved to be, often enquiring if they can offer us some assistance (which, at time, I am always happy to accept)